New-release facebook posts

newreleaseI finally went over to the dark side — I joined facebook as an author. And I have to admit it’s worth the extra half hour per day! During an average week, I spend that time posting something personal to my page (often a book review), sharing something from a writing buddy, and commenting on a few posts. Then, during a launch week, I reap the rewards with lots of organic eyes on my launch posts.

I stole the format of my launch post from several much more savvy authors and thought I’d pass it along here in case you’re having trouble getting attention for your posts. Here are my tips:

  • Start with an awesome graphic. If you’re doing a big sale like the 99 cent sale I ran on my bundle in August, it’s worth making a different graphic for each day of the week to see which one gets the most likes and shares. Optimal size is 1200X628 pixels
  • Prime the pump with a header that asks for likes and shares while also cutting to the chase. Why should people care? Because it’s new? Because it’s cheap? Because it has a thousand 5-star reviews?
  • Next, use one short paragraph to sell your book. The tagline from your blurb is a good inclusion here along with perhaps a review or a paraphrased review. Be sure to keep this short enough so your link will be visible without requiring people to click “More”.
  • End with your link(s).
  • Finally, boost the post (assuming you made the post on a page rather than on a personal profile). It’s worth spending a dollar a day to get a little extra buzz going during launch…although I have to admit that the post above has reached more people organically due to the friendly shares of authors and readers than it has through the paid boost.

As I said, I’m new to facebook, so I’ll bet those of you who are more experienced have other tips to add. What do you do to ensure your new-release facebook posts get shown to your fans rather than hidden in the facebook sea?

(P.S. Yes, I have a new release! I hope you’ll check it out. 🙂 )

What makes a book a bestseller?

teasersquare600After two years of pounding the keyboard and putting out indie fiction, I finally hit what I consider a bestseller. Half Wolf had 6,000 combined sales and borrows during its first three months of life, and the sequel seems to be enjoying even better reviews (and, hopefully, sales).

While my figures still don’t hold a candle to those of some authors, I thought it would be worth mentioning what I did differently in case you want to follow suit. Here’s a quick rundown in what went into my bestseller.

  1. Studied the genre harder. I read widely and often and write what I love to read. That said, I noticed repeated criticisms of my Wolf Rampant series surrounding lack of sex and action scenes. At first, I turned up my nose and said, “Hmmph! That’s what makes me an indie author — I can write what I want!” But then I decided to give it a whirl. And I have to admit I feel like the resulting book was more powerful for the inclusions (even though those component are still below average on a modern chart).
  2. Paid for an amazing cover. I have basic photoshop skills and thought I could make my own covers…and I did manage to make passable ones. Then I upgraded to hiring a cover artist…and was amazed at the difference in sales. Rebecca Frank is, unfortunately, now booked months in advance and no longer accepting new clients. However, I highly recommend shopping around and paying for a top-notch cover to match your top-notch book, hitting all of the same genre buttons to signal exactly what’s inside.
  3. Workshopped my blurb to death. Seriously, I think about ten people helped me make approximately 100 revisions on my blurb. Even before that, I studied the blurbs of the bestsellers in my genre, noting word count and other factors. Overall, I spent nearly a week on the project! But the result is tight and humming with life and it sells books.
  4. Launched with forethought. A lot more goes into a sticky launch than just telling your fans and waiting for the sales to roll in. If you haven’t read it, I recommend Chris Fox’s Launch to Market as a primer. I used a spreadsheet and every bit of social capital I’d built up in recent months on my launch and it was very much worth it.

I hope that gives you some ideas for pushing your next book into the stratosphere! And, if you’re curious, Half Wolf will be free Saturday and Lone Wolf Dawn is already marked down to 99 cents for launch week. Feel free to lurk and see whether my second launch does as well as the first.

#ExcerptWeek The Bloodling Series by Aimee Easterling

white 3D box

One of my favorite books to write was my Bloodling Serial, told from the point of view of a bloodling — a rare shifter born in wolf rather than human form. After growing up four-legged, Wolfie finds it hard to fit into two-legger society…and his antics always surprised me even as I typed them out.

Here’s a brief excerpt from near the beginning of Wolfie’s story:


If pee falls in the forest, and no one’s there…should I care?

Chase and I clearly fell on opposing sides of this philosophical conundrum, as evidenced by how quickly my milk brother shifted into human form and donned a scowl upon smelling the intruder’s scent mark.

I, on the other hand, was more interested in teasing out exactly who had come to call rather than in getting offended at the trespass. Lone male werewolf, halfway to adulthood and skulking around the edges of our territory, reported my sensitive lupine nose. And, for a moment, I considered going out of my way to track the outpack shifter down, feeding him a meal if nothing else before letting him continue on his way.

Or maybe I should give the kid a clue that most alphas wouldn’t be as long-suffering as I am when they catch a strange male sniffing after their girls? Because that’s what the outpack shifter had been looking for—unmated females. I could smell the lust and yearning in his urine deposit.

Okay, sure, so every teenage boy has his mind in the gutter. But most at least possessed an iota of self-preservation that would prevent them from marking across an alpha’s own peed-upon cairns. The trespasser might as well have included his phone number and “Call me for a good time” while he was at it—I’d definitely recognize the kid next time I saw him in person.

My father or brother would have been seeing red right about this time, but I instead found the situation increasingly hilarious as I followed the stranger’s minuscule stream of urine from mark to mark. Some over-zealous wolf pup thinking he could challenge my boundaries? I could tell from his scent that the invader was barely old enough to shift, probably a gangling fifteen year old whose human face was covered with acne and who still stumbled over his own lupine feet. The kid would be lucky if he didn’t drizzle urine all over himself while trying to figure out how to lift a leg and direct the stream.

I huffed out a canine laugh at the mental image, but my companion Chase just scowled. “You can’t really let him get away with that,” my milk brother chastened me quietly, laying one hand upon my lupine ears and shaking me none too gently. Chase wasn’t an alpha, which meant that he didn’t actually care about whose dick was the longest, but he still spent an inordinate amount of time looking out for my dignity. Good thing too since someone had to do it…and that person certainly wasn’t going to be me.

On the other hand, while I preferred patrolling our boundaries in lupine form, this conversation was getting too complicated for ear flicks and whines. So I lunged upwards, hands forming out of paws and snout receding in the time it took to turn back legs into…well, just legs.

“Let him get away with what?” I asked my best friend, still grinning at the cheeky bastard who had passed by here only a few hours earlier. “Get away with urinating on a few stones in the woods? I think I’ll survive the threat to my manhood.”

Amazon ebook giveaways: Hot or not?


There are lots of ways to give away free copies of your books in hopes of drawing in new readers. All have pros and cons. For example, Goodreads is quite effective at getting your giveaway in front of at least a few hundred new eyes…but you have to mail a physical book, which increases costs dramatically. Free ebooks are a great magnet to get folks to sign up for your email list…but you have to find the people to dangle that magnet in front of on your own.

While I’d like to say the new entry on the scene — Amazon — solves all of those problems, I can’t because you’re still in complete charge of driving traffic to your giveaway. Still, this new ebook giveaway system seems like a great way to add to your Amazon Followers’ list while possibly also promoting your existing titles at a very low cost. Basically, you buy the books you want to give away from Amazon and that’s the total cost of the promotion. If you lower the price of your book to 99 cents for a couple of hours and set up the giveaway during that period, your expenses will be bargain-basement low. (Here’s the long version of how to set up and promote an Amazon giveaway.)

Amazon Followers

To me, the value of an Amazon Giveaway is potentially pretty high because it can be used to increase your Amazon Followers. If you haven’t noticed this button, it’s now below each author’s profile picture on their Amazon page and in the bio section of each book page. Although Amazon’s implementation is still a bit hit or miss, they (usually? sometimes? if you sacrifice a goat?) give authors the opportunity to write a personal message to followers when a new book goes live. Many readers (like me) who have busy inboxes and would never imagine signing up for author email lists will click “follow” on Amazon because they know they’ll only get one notification when a new book is available.

Granted, you have to figure that people signing up to follow an author due to a giveaway will be less responsive to those Amazon nudges. However, even if those follows mean nothing, there’s another benefit of the Amazon giveaway. You’re given the opportunity to write a message of your choice to both winners and losers. Why not suggest that the losers borrow the book for free with Kindle Unlimited? Or perhaps sign up for your email list (with a link) and get two free books?

As you’ve probably gathered, I’m always willing to try new things once. And the jury’s still out on whether my giveaway will be worth it or not. After emailing my list, I went from 0 entries to about 300 entries, with more slowly trickling in. My understanding is that folks with a twitter following will have much better results since people actively follow the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag. Maybe one of you tweeters will make a giveaway and test that hypothesis out and let me know? Good luck with your next giveaway!

Facebook ads for books

halfwolfThe hottest topic around the writers’ water cooler in recent months has been using facebook ads. The upshot? You can get email list subscribers for as low as 35 cents a pop by giving away free books. Then it’s a simple matter of massaging your new readers to turn them into buying (or at least reviewing) fans.

If you want to learn more, I recommend checking out Mark Dawson’s free video series for a basic introduction. You’ll have to commit significant time to tweaking, though, and will also want your website to be in top-notch shape before beginning. So I only recommend embarking on the project if you’re willing to take some concerted effort away from writing to make it happen.

Is it worth it? I’d say so. Building up my email list helped me launch my newest book into the 3,000s on Amazon as well as track down 15 five-star reviews during launch week. (Okay, setting the price at 99 cents for the launch period has helped too.) Now I’m trying to continue that momentum with a simple boosted facebook post (a technique that can give you even cheaper results than a fancier facebook ad if you get enough people to like and comment on the post).

Want to help out? I’d love it if you liked, commented on, or shared my new-release facebook post. Remind me when your next book is live and I’ll do the same for you. Thanks in advance!


Can I pick your brains?


I’m hoping I’ve caught you procrastinating and willing to provide a little critical feedback today. First and most important, I’m struggling to decide on the title of my current work in progress. I know that I’ve sung the praises of running market research on titles before, but google raised their prices and I can’t quite stomach throwing $100 at deciding on a book title. So I hope you’ll take thirty seconds to follow this link and vote on your favorite title if you’re a reader of urban fantasy.

And if you’re feeling particularly bored, perhaps you’ll also check out my brand new author website and give me your thoughts on it as well. There are a few things I still want to fix, but feel free to suggest changes anyway — I want to make it professional and enticing!

In case you’re curious (or thinking of making a new author website yourself), I opted to host through InMotion and used the paid theme Precious Lite Pro to make building the site easier. My primary goal was to make a quality email-list signup page since I’m thinking of trying facebook ads, but I also want to give true fans somewhere to go for extras and other perks. Which is all a long way of saying — feel free to be harsh in your criticisms! I want it to look nice. What do you think?

Take Off Your Pants

Take Off Your PantsDespite frequent recommendations, I put off reading Libbie Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants for far too long. I’d somehow gotten it into my head that the book was about writing an outline, which sounded like the driest topic imaginable. Imagine my surprise when I glanced over the first page and discovered that Hawker was instead presenting a concise, well-thought-out tactic for crafting a riveting, tightly written novel. (Okay, yes, and she also mentions drafting outlines near the end.)

You’ll really want to read the book yourself since it costs only three bucks and can be consumed in about an hour and a half. But the gist is simple: the best stories are based on the protagonists’s greatest flaw. The identity of the antagonist and the type of both internal and external conflicts all stem directly from that flaw, and the most satisfying conclusion results when the hero overcomes that flaw.

I’m about halfway through the first draft of my current work in progress, and I thought I’d plotted the story out pretty well. But as I read Hawker’s tips, I realized that a weak chapter a third of the way through was missing an important element of her suggested structure and her book also helped me fill in a gap late in the plot that was giving me fits.

If you give the book a try and want to plot your next (or current) novel using Hawker’s techniques, I drafted a cheat sheet based on her book. The file I’ve linked to probably won’t make much sense if you haven’t already taken off your pants, but hopefully it’ll be a handy addendum once you’ve done the required reading.

What’s up next? Save the Cat was one of the original plotting books that got me off to a good start, and I think the next one on my recommended reading list is The Hero With a Thousand Faces. I’d be curious to hear if you’ve enjoyed other books on story structure (or if you think any kind of canned story outline is heresy) in the comments. Or perhaps you’d like to share your own experience with biting the bullet and leaving behind your pantser ways.

Teaming up with other authors


And now, on an entirely different note, I wanted to plug Patty Jensen’s FREE sci-fi and fantasy giveaway. I hope you’ll click through and check out the page since there are literally dozens of books to choose from, all of which can be downloaded free today only. The covers alone are inspiring, and I’m particularly planning on checking out the science fiction and fantasy romance section near the bottom of the page.

Why am I plugging someone else’s giveaway? Because I have a book included, of course. And this seemed like a good opportunity to talk about one of the best ways I’ve found to advertise books on the cheap — teaming up with other authors who write in your genre. Multi-author box sets (which I’ve written about previously) are one way to do this on a large scale. But smaller promos like this one can also significantly increase sales without making a dent in your budget. Other options I’ve used include recommending an author whose books are very similar to yours in your newsletter while they do the same for you. And, if you specifically write in the fields of science fiction and fantasy and want to be involved in Patty’s next giveaway, there’s a tab at the top of her promo page with more information so you can apply for the February sale.

And now I’ll open the floor to you. What’s your favorite way to cross-promote with other authors? How do you build those important social networks? Which techniques have and haven’t worked for you?

Outpack excerpt

Wolf Rampant trilogyThe newest book is always the most interesting, so I’m going to follow Marcia’s lead and post the first few paragraphs from my unedited work-in-progress, currently titled Outpack. This upcoming book in an entirely new trilogy is a spinoff following one of the side characters you may have read about in Wolf Rampant. Fen is a half-werewolf trying to make it in the cold, hard world. But I’ll let her speak for herself….


Three shifters walked into a bar.

It sounds like the beginning of a corny joke, doesn’t it?

But here’s a little more information for you. I was those shifters’ alpha and den mother rolled into one. Two of the barhoppers were jail bait or close to it. And the establishment in question was filled to the brim with horny, lawless, outpack males.

No wonder I wasn’t laughing and was in a big hurry.

I breezed past the bouncer with a show of entirely human teeth, then rolled my eyes at his laxness. The employee wasn’t being remiss by not checking my ID. Not in a werewolf bar. But he still wasn’t really doing his job.

I was twenty-one — barely — which is all humans would have cared about when allowing entrance to a drinking establishment. But the guy at the door in a shifter bar was supposed to turn away anyone without the ability to don fur and howl at the moon. And even though I was technically a shifter, my half-human heritage meant my wolf was too weak to rise up behind my eyes and prove her worth to the bouncer.

Good thing I was accustomed to faking it.

Writing characters of the opposite sex

bloodlingteaserSurely you’ve read those romance novels where the hero never swears and is just dying to talk about his feelings. Or how about thrillers where the heroine has no body issues and jumps right into emotion-free sex. While there’s a time and a place for wish-fulfillment-based characters in both genres, most readers like to read about somebody with a little more meat on their metaphorical bones. Which means that authors are stuck trying to get into the minds of characters of the opposite sex.

I wish I could provide male authors with a quick checklist on how to write female characters and vice versa…because then I’d be rich and famous. (Although, guys, please do check out the Bechdel test which recommends that two female characters must at some point in your book talk about something other than a man.) Instead, I’m going to offer something quite simple — rather than engaging in small talk this holiday season, why not delve deeper into the male/female mind at your next party or family get-together?

I took my own advice to heart this past month and begged men and women alike to tell me how many crushes they’d had in their lives. The rules were simple — I wouldn’t tell them the data I’d thus far collected until they tallied up their own number. And they could define “crush” in whatever manner worked for them. The results shocked me. (I’m going to wait to put them in the comments section in case you want to play along. Guess now, then scroll down!)

Questions like this helped me delve deep enough into the male mind that I finally felt confident writing a first-person point-of-view story from a guy’s perspective. The result — Bloodling Wolf — got so much praise that I turned it into a serial. And I have to admit that whether or not I nailed every characteristic, it was amazingly freeing to write like a guy. My protagonist swears, doesn’t mind describing sex scenes, and never takes the world too seriously. Sounds like a vacation to this emotionally-charged female brain!

I’d be curious to hear from other authors. What tricks do you use to get into character when writing as the opposite sex? When you read romance novels and thrillers, do you cringe at those wooden men and women (respectively)? And which books do you feel really hit the nail on the head despite following a protagonist whose gender didn’t match that of the author?

(Oh, and by the way, Happy New Year!)